Jim Carter has revealed that he often takes on the role of the butler at home on Christmas Day.

The actor, who plays head butler Charles Carson in ITV’s period drama Downton Abbey, admitted he takes charge of the games.

“We love the traditional Christmas. There will be three families around the table. (There’s) monster cooking, (we’ll be) singing carols and playing old-fashioned parlour games and jigsaw puzzles with the television firmly off,” he said.

Jim, who is married to actress Imelda Staunton, continued: “Imelda handles the bulk of the cooking, our daughter Bessie and I set the table and I’m the games master – I put together the games and everything.

“We (Bessie and I ) print out the words to the carols so we can all sing along. I suppose I am the butler really.

“We play the parlour games, word games and hiding games with the same group of people and they get a bit grumpy if I don’t organise them!” he added.

They might find time to watch Downton Abbey: “It depends on whether we’ve thrown out our guests by that time, otherwise we’ll watch it on catch-up.”

Jim said his favourite festive memory was their daughter’s second Christmas.

“It’s through your kids you enjoy Christmas and to see her delight in it was… That was when she was first conscious of it so that is my favourite year. She came into the sitting room and said, ‘He’s been, he’s been!’ Father Christmas had been,” he recalled. “That was the year I made her a doll’s house so when she saw the doll’s house, her eyes lit up.”

The Downton Abbey Christmas special will be shown at 8.30pm on Christmas Day. Jim is supporting the Greenpeace Christmas campaign – see www.greenpeace.org.uk/savesanta.